I wake in the evenings in this season of my life, an hour or two after the sun has gone down. I sit at the desk at night, and I lie back down as the sun climbs up the sky. I wake in the supple arms of a darkness distinct from every other darkness that has come before it, so why should I, and how could I, stay the same, as if I am not subject to the same law that keeps the seasons changing? The law of invisible evidence tells me I too am distinct, but not separate. No space exists between my essence and the presence of night, for I rest inside the pages of night’s book. It is a good night to stay within these lines.
Let my hands work independently of my mind, until my mind and heart get on the same page. Let my hands work as they were made to work, while my mind looks for some way to keep the work from happening, to keep from being seen through in all its insubstantiality, all its trickery and thievery, its whole mindless charade.
Watch the parade of characters go by: some in regal vehicles, awaiting the fanfare they believe is their due; some hunched over, as if they could hide themselves in plain sight, overwhelmed by the crowd of people on either side of the road they walk down, feeling personally attacked by the laughter and merriment raining down from both flanks; some standing up tall, chest puffed out, as if to ward off attack by going on the offensive. And so many more, a veritable army of characters populating the mind, the battalions running on self-importance or self-denigration, on self-love or self-hatred, on self-righteousness or self-doubt. The parade is supposed to be a celebration of independence, but in this state, under these influences, it wouldn’t make much sense to celebrate Independence Day, would it?
In this state, under these influences, the only thing that makes much sense to me is closing my eyes, opening the door, and accepting the wind’s invitation to spin wordlessly through the air, to bear for a moment the absence of my mind, to let that beast lie, and become friends again with the world outside my skull and skin, become intimate with surfaces and learn from them how to rest in the silence out of which they surface.
Leaves on the oak trees that are even now turning color, help me to wait like you do, green in the sun all summer, for your unwilled transformation into the deep reds, bright yellows, and rich auburns of autumn. You do nothing, make no efforts to change yourself; you stay green until you are changed by nature of some power outside your control. I do not know why you change, and I do not know why it is so much harder for me, who sees you not simply as you are but as a symbol of what I could be, to change with the seasons, to express freely and openly the bright golden joys and deep red passions of a full and vital existence. This past summer, as you hung patiently on the trees, I lost touch even with my own longing for that full existence. I cowered from the endless ache at the heart of that longing. I stayed away from this silence, so as not to let that ache surface. I could weep now at my self-betrayal.
Let this silence break my will and break my heart open. Empty and purify me, make me a clean window. Let ear and tongue be open windows: the ear letting in the wind from outside; the tongue letting out the breath from within. Breathe in and breathe out. Shout from the rooftops the good news. Or lament from the basement the pain of your separation, your longing to stand on the roof and let the beauty of the sunset bring you to tears every evening. I want to live today, and not in the basement. But perhaps it is only there, only here—flattened, split and shattered—that I will find myself nailed to the ground of humility, and pray from here, from the depths of my being, that truest of pleas: help me.
Can you let deadly calm possess you?
Can you let stillness confess its wordless secrets
On this windless morning?
You want to give everything,
But you have nothing to give.
You want to be yourself,
But do you know who that is?
You do not want to speak,
But you expect to be heard.
You do not want to be swayed,
But you demand to be stirred.
Can you let the river of unknowing stir you?
Can you let mystery endure amidst the empty uproar
On this wind-strewn afternoon?
You want to get out of here,
But you don’t know which way.
You want to say it all so clearly,
But you don’t know what to say.
You do not want to weep,
But you’d love to be honest.
You do not want to be surprised,
But you demand to be astonished.
Do your unending demands astonish you?
Do your own offending hands admonish you?
Feel the wind die down in the early evening.
Even it does not pretend to acknowledge you.
You want to change everyone else
So long as you can remain the exact same.
You want the world to be different
So long as you don’t have to feel any pain.
You don’t need to be with anyone
So long as they all want to be with you.
You are just fine with being all alone
Just so long as you are being pursued.
Can you let happiness pursue you?
Can you get out of your way long enough
To let the wind that picks up at dusk
Cut you back down and pull you through?
You want to remember how it was
So long as it was better back then.
You want to imagine how it will be
So long as it gets better again.
You don’t want to stay stuck here
So long as there’s someplace better to go.
You don’t mind stickin’ around
So long as someone here still enjoys your show.
Can you feel the agony of all your divisions?
Can you kneel over every one of your tragic decisions?
You open the window, no wind blows inside.
In the darkest part of the motionless night,
The silence pierces you with deadly precision.